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Rabu, 10 Maret 2010

Islamic Economics - Annotated Sources in English and Urdu

J. Res. Islamic Econ., Vol. 2, No. 2, pp. 95-97 (1405/1985)
95
Muhammad Akram Khan
Islamic Economics - Annotated Sources in English and Urdu
Leicester, U.K. : The Islamic Foundation, 1983, 221 p.
Muhammad Akram Khan had published a first Annotated Bibliography of
Contemporary Economic Thought in Islam in 1973 (Lahore: All Pakistan Education
Congress). It listed 153 Urdu and English titles. Mr. Khan's present bibliography
contains approximately 750 titles of which about 630 are annotated while the rest are
listed in a supplement. The annotated part covers literature up to early 1982, and the
supplement lists additional titles up to early 1983. Of the total 750 entries, about 250 are
in Urdu, the rest in English. The bibliography also has an author and a subject index, but
it does not cover titles in the supplement. Roughly 30 percent of the English entries
were, at the time of the compilation of the bibliography, unpublished typescripts,
seminar papers, etc. Now (early 1984), a considerable number of these papers has been
published in Journals and books.
The entries are arranged according to a classification system of the Journal of
Economic Literature of the American Economic Association. There are ten main
groups, namely: (0) General Economics; Theory; History; System, (1) Economic
Growth; Development; Planning; Fluctuations, (2) Economic Statistics, (3) Domestic
Monetary and Fiscal Theory and Institutions, (4) International Economics, (5)
Administration; Business Finance; Marketing; Accounting, (6) Industrial Organisation;
Economics of Change, (7) Land Management, (8) Manpower; Labour; Population, (9)
Welfare Programmes; Consumer Economics. Each of these groups has sub-groups,
bringing the total number of headlines for the classification of titles to over 150. A
considerable number of headlines, however, is only mentioned in the Classification
System but not in the main body of the bibliography because so far no titles could be
filed under them. For example, the whole group 6 is vacant. Obviously, the
Classification System was designed for a growing volume of literature expected in the
future.
Each title is entered only once under one heading, and since cross references at the
end of each sub-group are very scarce, there is a danger that the hurried user of
bibliography (who does not read the whole book) will overlook some relevant titles
because they were entered under different and somewhat unexpected headings. In
principle, such a danger could be eliminated by a subject index, and the book is
equipped with one. But that is, unfortunately, of no big practical use; this can be
96 Muhammad Akram Khan
demonstrated best by two examples: (1) Both under the key-words "Inflation: Caused
by interest", and "In terest: As a cause of inflation" (only) one title is given. But these
titles are not, as one should expect, identical but different. (2) Under the headline "053
Islamic socialism" seven titles were entered. In the subject index, "Islamic socialism" is
a key-word, too. One should expect that in the index additional titles to those entered
under sub-group 053 are given. Indeed, there is mention of additional titles in other subgroups,
but their number is just two, while only six of the seven entries of the basic subgroup
053 occur under "Islamic socialism" in the index.
Mr. Khan has done an admirable work in collecting, classifying and annotating the
material presented in his bibliography. The annotated bibliography should be valued as
a pioneering (and generally successful) attempt, and my comments should not be
understood as pedantic and narrow-minded criticism. My critical remarks should be
seen as suggestions for possible improvements in later editions of this very useful work.
I fully agree with Mr. Khan that "an absolute objective annotation is... not possible"
and that there "may be room for disagreement on these annotations."Whatever the point
of disagreement may be in a particular case, one must certify that in general Muhammad
Akram succeeded in his attempt to minimize subjectivity and to give unbiased
informations on the contents of contributions of authors with very different theoretical,
political and ideological positions. While this deserves appreciation, I am less happy
with the length of some of the annotations. For example, an unpublished paper of 8
pages (132:2) received 8 lines while a whole book of 112 (small) pages (057:16) only 2.
Such unbalances are, however, the exception and not the rule.
Concerning the selection of titles, no explicit criteria are given. One group of
literature is seriously underrepresented, and unfortunately that literature is related to one
of those fields where Islamic Economics can lead to concrete and practical economic
policy, namely international economics, especially economic cooperation among
Islamic countries. The reason for the omission of this literature may be that one has
really much difficulties to see the fundamental "Islamic" content e.g. in contributions
dealing with "Islamic Aviation" or "Islamic Shipping" or of proposals for the
establishment of an "Islamic Cement Union" or an "Islamic Telecommunications
Union". Nevertheless, the literature dealing with such subjects is rapidly growing, and
there can be no doubt the practical relevance of the respective policy-oriented
discussions which take place within the institutional framework of the Organisation of
the Islamic Conference. For this reason, I would include the contributions in "applied
Islamic economics" in the bibliography. If felt necessary, some reservations regarding
the "Islamic" content of this branch of the literature could be expressed in the foreword.
For the time being, people who are interested in the applied and policy-oriented
contributions in the field of international (Islamic) economics should look at the
quarterly Journal of Economic Cooperation among Islamic Countries, published since
October 1979 by the Statistical, Economic and Social Research and Training Centre for
Islamic Countries in Ankara (SESRTIC).
Some bibliographical data is given in a confusing way because unexplained
abbreviations are used. Two example for references whose meanings are far from
obvious to non-insiders: "J.E.S.H.O., Leiden, (3), part 3" (see title 042:3) means at full
Islamic Economics - Annotated Sources in English and Urdu 97
length: Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient , Vol.3 (Part III),
Leiden, 1960", and "Cooperation (III/2:10), January 1982" (see p.210) would read fully
Journal of Economic Cooperation among Islamic Countries, No.10 resp. Vol. III
(1981/82), No.2 (January), Ankara, 1982".
There are some additional critical details, for example: (1) Titles which cover
roughly the same subject are entered under different headlines, e.g. Udovitch's
"Commercial Techniques in EarlyMedieval Islamic Trade" (043:17) is classified under
"Medieval Islam" while his "Partnership and Profit in Medieval Islam" (512:8) is under
"Types of Business Organisation in Islamic Economy". (2) The "Modaraba Ordinance"
(512:10) was not written by Udovitch and "International Islamic Bank Ltd., Dacca"
(p.209) not by Zarqa and Alkaff as indicated by erroneous dashes in both cases (3)
Aghnides' Mohammadan Theories of Finance (320:4) was first published in 1916 (New
York: Columbus University) and Lokkegaard's Islamic Taxation (p. 209; the full title is:
Islamic Taxation in the Classic Period with Special Reference to Circumstances in Iraq )
was originally published in 1950 (Copenhagen: Branner & Korch). The first volume of
A. Raban's Economic Doctrines of Islam (054:17) came out in 1974. (4) M.N. Siddiqi's
Contemporary Literature on Islamic Economics (0141:2) was reprinted as the
bibliographical part of his Muslim Economic Thinking (0314:1) which itself was also
published as a separate book in 1981 (Leicester: The Islamic Foundation) which is not
mentioned.
It would be no problem to consider the above critique when a new edition of the
bibliography will be prepared in the future. The shortcomings of the present edition of
Mr. Khan's bibliography are not very serious but irritating.
As Khurshid Ahmad announced in his Introduction, new editions (or supplements)
are envisaged every three to five years. Muhammad Akram Khan wrote in his Foreword
that his "interest has been to make a start on cataloguing the literature on Islamic
economics in a way which could help my colleagues in general, and new researchers in
particular." There is no doubt that an annotated bibliography is a great help for
researchers. But to know about a book or article and to get it are unfortunately two very
different things. I know that not only within the Muslim world but also in non-Muslim
countries like Germany there is a growing academic interest in Islamic economics. But
very often people who wanted to study particular aspects of Islamic economics soon
became frustrated when they faced the various difficulties in obtaining the relevant
literature. If we agree that academic discussions and controversies can be fruitful and
should be facilitated and intensified also between Muslim and non-Muslim economists,
then I feel that the Muslim side could utilize a considerable research potential in
Western universities at very low costs: What would be needed only is a kind of office
which could provide researchers with all the relevant material (including not yet
published seminar or discussion papers) and keep the Muslim economists informed on
the results of the respective research projects. Individual men can compile
bibliographies, but this should not be an end n itself but the basis for a stimulation of
further research. Institutions like ICRIE are called for in order to create an adequate
institutional framework.
University of Bochum (W. Germany). Volker Nienhaus

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